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BERLIN ’36

Director: KASPER HEIDELBACH

100 minutes Germany| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| Dolby Digital Stereo| 35mm


Berlin ’36 dramatises the amazing but true story of Gretel Bergmann, a talented Jewish high-jump athlete who was manipulated by the Nazis to train for the 1936 Olympics, only to be replaced in the final competition by a cross-dressing male athlete. The whole charade was orchestrated by the Nazis, who were forced by other nations to allow Jewish athletes to compete. Threats to her family ensured Gretel’s participation, and she never discovered the true identity of fellow competitor ‘Dora’ Ratjen (real
name Horst Ratjen). In Kaspar Heidelbach’s film, a chaste but profoundly emotional bond develops between Bergmann (Karoline Herfurth) and Ratjen (called ‘Marie’ Ketteler in the movie), both of whom are outsiders. The film assumes additional resonance in the wake of the controversy over the gender of the South African gold medal winner at this year’s World Athletics Championships, an event held in the very same stadium as the 1936 Olympics. Tickets cost €12 and include a post screening reception.

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